GARDINER — When city elected officials meet this week they will consider whether to create a full-time economic development director position in next year’s budget.

Patrick Wright, executive director of Gardiner Main Street, took on additional responsibilities as economic development coordinator when the city contracted with Gardiner Main Street for economic development services. But Wright announced earlier this year that he plans to leave Gardiner Main Street at the end of May, and he’ll also give up the economic development coordinator position.

Interim City Manager Anne Davis said Monday city staff is looking for direction from the City Council and she is recommending the position be created. As proposed, the salary would be $52,800.

“We have so much in the hopper right now and we want them to let us know what they are thinking,” Davis said.

Among the projects that Wright and city officials have been working on are the redevelopment of the former T.W. Dick properties on Summer Street, lot sales in the Libby Hill Business Park, managing the facade grant for buildings on Water Street, and the pending replacement of the Bridge Street and Maine Avenue bridges that cross Cobbosseecontee Stream.

Davis said the city has lacked a grants manager since 2014, when Gardiner’s last full-time economic development director, Nate Rudy, left to become the executive director of the Waterville Creates! organization.

While in Gardiner, Rudy helped secure hundreds of thousands of dollars in grant funding from the Orton Family Foundation for the two-year Heart & Soul planning project and for assessing possible contaminants in the downtown area and along Cobbosseecontee Stream from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Rudy, who is now the city manager in Hallowell, was also a key driver in the city to establish a process for the reuse of older buildings.

After his departure, city officials opted to not fill the position, and to spread some responsibilities to other city staff members and to contract out others.

At the time, city officials were looking for ways to save money to a address a $500,000 deficit in the city budget.

Mayor Thom Harnett said the city is continuing to deal with decreased levels of revenue sharing from the state and the School Administrative District 11’s budget has not yet been completed, so it’s too early to say what the impact on taxpayers will be this year.

“It’s not a very rosy budget,” Harnett said, noting the city’s financial challenges are not as severe as they were in 2014.

Having an economic development director is about increasing the city’s tax base and easing the burden on taxpayers, he said.

As city officials consider this, they are also expected to complete first-round interviews of city manager candidates this week in their renewed search to find a permanent replacement for Scott Morelli, who left a little more than a year ago to become city manager in South Portland.

Davis said in many communities the city manager takes on economic development duties.

If elected officials approve the creation of the economic development director position, it would be part of the city’s proposed 2019 budget, which will be presented Wednesday. Budget workshops are expected to take place during the next several City Council meetings.

City elected officials are also expected to:

• Discuss concerns about the property at 78 Central St.

• Hold a public hearing and vote on the second read of a proposal to increase sewer rates 4 percent a year over the next four years

• Consider sewer abatement requests

• Consider approving special event permits for The Wall that Heals in July, Easter and Spring Celebration in March, the Faith Christan Church Summer Ice Cream Social in July, the Great Race in June, the Gardiner Cruise-In from May to September, and the Gardiner Music Walk in April

• Consider a bottle club license renewal for the Gardiner Sportsmen’s Club

• Consider a liquor license renewal for Pasta’z Inc.

• Consider appointing Reggie Cooley to one of the two vacancies on the Wastewater Advisory Committee

An executive session is scheduled to discuss a real estate matter.

Following that executive session, city elected officials will consider ratifying a purchase and sale agreement for two lots in the Libby Hill Business Park, and consider a credit enhancement agreement with Auburn Asphalt.

The Gardiner City Council meets at 6 p.m. Wednesday in the City Council chamber at 6 Church Street.

Jessica Lowell — 621-5632

[email protected]

Twitter: @JLowellKJ

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